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Child Care Workers Approve Union Representation

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A home day care in South Los Angeles. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Child care providers have overwhelmingly voted to be represented by a union in collective bargaining with the state over better pay and other benefits.

Child Care Providers United reported during a Facebook livestream on Monday that 97% of the ballots mailed in between June 22 and July 22 favored representation. At least 43,000 child care workers will be eligible to join the union, which is a partnership between labor groups SEIU and AFSCME.

The election was almost two decades in the making. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation in September 2019 that gave the providers, who care for children from low-income families who receive public assistance, the right to collectively bargain.

These providers, most of whom are women of color, rely on payments from the state to provide subsidized care and say the rates work out to lower than minimum wage for the hours they work.

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The election happened in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has both highlighted child care’s role in allowing parents to work and the challenges providers face to operate in a system that’s been underfunded for years.

More than three-quarters of California child care providers say they’re losing income with fewer families enrolled and 80% say it costs more to buy the cleaning supplies and protective equipment needed to operate, according to a survey from UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment.

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